4 Steps to Live and Thrive During Uncertainty in Ministry - Leaders.Church


4 Steps to Live and Thrive During Uncertainty in Ministry

Uncertainty is something that plagues the human mind and heart almost constantly. I don’t think I have ever met someone who did not feel uncertain of something. Right now, more than ever, our world is full of uncertainty. COVD-19 is a silent and sly adversary who has shut down the world.  

In this post we’ll look at the following steps:


The surreality is unnerving. It is almost as if that movie we all loved to watch is now the one we live. The problem? We are living it.  

We cannot change the uncertainty of our world, but we can learn how to first live and then thrive in the middle of it.  


We are not ostriches and we can’t act like them. In fact, if you read about the ostrich, it is just an urban myth that they put their heads in the ground in the face of danger. Why? Because if they did, they would die of asphyxiation and not the predator.  

So many times, we put our head in the ground thinking we are avoiding the predator, but in all reality, we are only killing ourselves by robbing our ability to breathe. 

When we acknowledge the circumstances of our lives, we open ourselves up for a framework of how to live.  

When we ignore and run away from the situations we are in, we will only find ourselves gasping for air, but breathing in sand. It is impossible for me to know how to act if I don’t know the framework. For example, if I was put on a baseball diamond and told to play, but pretended I was on a basketball court, the only outcome would be failure. Probably pretty entertaining, but failure, nonetheless. In the face of uncertainty, we must know the game we are playing to be able to operate effectively. If I try to operate in the way I am used to operating, it will be as if I am playing basketball on a baseball diamond.  

“But Grant, it is all over the news, I am now homeschooling and our church can’t meet in person. OF COURSE, I have acknowledged COVID-19. Duh.” 

We can both live in a condition that we simultaneously, unconsciously ignore. 

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Have you sat down and actually processed everything that has changed or just let the change happen to you?  

Have you journaled about what is different and how your life looks now? 

Have you identified the emotions you are feeling and the thoughts you are having? 

If you have not done these things (you aren’t in trouble!), then you have not fully acknowledged your current situation.  

Action Step:

Take 30 minutes alone (no social media, text messages, kids, or your spouse) and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How has my world changed in the last 4 weeks? 
  • What emotions am I feeling right now? 
  • What thoughts are going through my head right now? 
  • What thoughts do I have throughout the day? 

Try to be as detailed as possible. Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up. 


Just because you acknowledge something does not mean that you accept it.  

During World War II, there was a Christian church in Germany that backed up to train tracks. Every Sunday, a train carrying Jews to Nazi concentration camps would come rumbling by. There is a man who lived through the Nazi Holocaust and went to that church as a young boy. He recounts the experience: 

We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. 

This little church in the countryside acknowledged the Nazi Holocaust. They acknowledged the train filled with Jews. They acknowledged where the train was going and what the result was going to be. They did not accept it. They did not accept their responsibility.  

We can acknowledge our current reality without accepting our responsibility in it.  

If you do not accept your responsibilities in the midst of uncertainty, you are tricking yourself into thinking you are moving forward. In fact, you are probably just singing louder in order to not hear the train of uncertainty and change that is barreling past you.  

Action Step:

Take 30 minutes alone (no social media, text messages, kids, or your spouse), write down this affirmation, and then freely journal your thoughts: 

  • I acknowledge that ___________ has changed (use your answers from the acknowledge prompts) and I accept that my reality is now different. I accept that I am going to need to make changes and be uncomfortable in order to move forward. I accept that these changes are now my new normal and I can and will learn how to live in them and then thrive in them. I accept that I alone can lead myself, my staff, my church, my relationships, and my family forward in the middle of this uncertainty.


Acknowledging and accepting the changes and uncertainty is only the first half. Taking the time to slow down allows you the ability to think clearly in the middle of the fog. Now, it is time to make changes.  

Imagine you are piloting a plane full of people. These people could represent your family, friends, team, income, relationships, etc. You alone are piloting the plane. All of a sudden, a storm, that you weren’t expecting, hits the plane. It is hard to see, and turbulence is shaking the plane. You have acknowledged the plane is in the middle of a storm. You have accepted that you are the pilot and must fly the plane in the middle of the storm; you can’t leave the cockpit and give control to someone else…they aren’t a pilot! You also know that you can no longer fly the same course as before, or the storm will rip the plane apart (it’s a really big storm).  

Now You Have to Make a Decision

Do you adjust course and how do you adjust it?

What you did before the storm is no longer going to work. You must adjust your course to the new conditions you find yourself in. Remember, you have to adjust course because you are the pilot! 

The way you operate in your world has to change in order to continue on the desired trajectory. It may take longer, be new, or seem scary, but the only way to get where you need to go is change course.   

If you do not adjust your modus operandi, then you are tricking yourself into thinking you can live and thrive in these uncertain times.  

Maybe the destination looks different now? Maybe what mattered before no longer matters? Maybe you need to focus on different things than you focused on before? You have to adjust the way you live, work, and relate in the middle of uncertainty to keep the passengers on your plane safe and at peace.  

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You Can Only Control What You Can Control

If you try and control the storm, you are going to find out quickly that you are not Jesus. So many times, we exhaust ourselves trying to control the things that are out of our control.  

Here are the things you cannot control: 

  • How your congregation is impacted 
  • Your staff’s emotions and response 
  • Your spouse’s emotions
  • Your mortgage company
  • When things go back to “normal” 

Here are the things you can control: 

  • How you lead your church
  • If you focus on the problem or innovation
  • Your response to adversity
  • Your schedule and plan 
  • Your mindset 
  • How you lead your family
  • Your own emotions
  • How much time you spend with the Lord 
  • The activity you put in
  • How you communicate to your organization and staff
  • You can control you

Focus only on what you can control to find stability and peace in the midst of uncertainty.  

Action Steps:

Take 30 minutes alone (no social media, text messages, kids, or your spouse) and answer these questions: 

  • What are the things that I can control? 
  • What goals do I need to adjust to fit my circumstances? 
  • How am I leading and relating to my family, team, etc. right now? 
  • What do I need to change in how I relate to them? 
  • Am I a source of calm and peace or chaos and uncertainty? 
  • How am I communicating right now? 
  • What practical things do I need to change in my day-to-day life to adjust on my new course? 
    • BONUS: Schedule out every hour of your day. Put work, play, family time, rest, etc. in there. Your brain will be able to relax and be 100% present if you know that you have times to do what you need to do. 


We have acknowledged, accepted, and adjusted. Now we are in the real danger zone. This is the place where paralysis by analysis takes its victims. It is easier to sit and stare at a plan than act on the plan. In order to live and thrive in uncertainty, you have to begin moving. Even if it is only one step a day: you are moving forward. 

Momentum is harder to create than cultivate.   

This is going to be one of the hardest places for you because you now have to create the momentum forward. You have to create positive momentum for your family, work, and life. Once you have generated the momentum, you are now living in the midst of uncertainty. To thrive, you cultivate and grow your momentum.  

A lot of times people tie motivation into momentum. Motivation really has nothing to do with it. When we hear people say, “Wow! That person is so motivated,” really what we are hearing is, “Wow! That person has a well-thought-out plan that they are acting on every day that is generating momentum.”  

Success is more about creating and cultivating momentum than motivation.  

Momentum is one of the best friends you can have. With enough momentum you can hit any pothole and use it as a ramp to fly forward. Why? Your momentum is greater than your obstacle.  

When your momentum is greater than your obstacle, you are able to break through the barriers of uncertainty. 

When your momentum is less than your obstacle, you are stopped by the barriers of uncertainty.  

How Do We Create and Cultivate Momentum?

I do it in four steps. At the end of each day I take time to answer the following questions: 

  1. What are 3 things I learned today? 
  2. What are 3 opportunities for growth from today? 
  3. What are 3 wins from today? 
  4. What are the 3 things I need to do tomorrow to reach my goals? 

I am able to identify I am moving forward (what I learned), where I need to grow for continued success (opportunities for growth), what I am doing really well (wins), and what I need to do to keep moving forward (things I need to do tomorrow). 

Adding this practice, to the end of the day, allows you to do an audit and keep yourself moving forward.  

Forward Movement = More Momentum = More Forward Movement = Stability 

Action Steps:

Take 30 minutes alone (no social media, text messages, kids, or your spouse) and answer these questions: 

  • Implement the Four Momentum Questions at the end of your day. 
  • BONUS: You can do this at the end of each day, week, month, and quarter to make sure you are controlling where you are going. 

 Take the time you need to slow down to speed up. I believe in you. 

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